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Flying daily from Melbourne to Los Angeles and also from Sydney to both LA and San Francisco come late March, United's Boeing 787 Dreamliners offer high flyers a considerably improved 'BusinessFirst' (business class) experience over the Boeing 777s of years passed.
With seats arranged in a 2-2-2 layout, direct and uninterrupted access to the aisles is at a premium: but can still be yours if you choose wisely.
United Boeing 787-9 'BusinessFirst' business class
Split across two zones, most passengers are seated in the forward section with five rows, conveniently numbered 1-5, while a further three rows form a mini-cabin immediately behind as rows 6-8.
All BusinessFirst seats come in pairs, with these our top picks.
1D, 1E, 6D, 6E: These seats are at the front and centre of each cabin, providing direct aisle access with nobody hopping over you – as your seatmate can use the opposing aisle – plus the benefit of a small shelf area at each bulkhead wall:
It's a great place to plonk your bag while fishing out your pyjamas (BYO), laptop and charging cables, and after the first meal service is completed is usually transformed into a snack table for easy access to grab-and-go chips, sandwiches and fruit.
These seats are close to the galleys and restrooms which usually signals possible noise disruption, but having taken overnight flights in both rows 1 & 6, we weren't kept awake by noise, light or fellow passengers.
Any other centre pair: Ideal for solo travellers keen for a good sleep or a productive flight, there's again nobody jumping over you and nobody to climb over yourself so you can cruise to your destination on your own schedule.
Row 3, for light sleepers: Smack bang in the middle of the main business class cabin, you're three rows from the restrooms ahead of row 1 and behind row 5, making for less aisle traffic from passing passengers and less chance of noise from passengers chatting while waiting for the facilities.
Rows 1-5, for a calm boarding: Scroll back up to the seat map and you'll spot four red triangles – they indicate the aircraft doors, and more often than not, the one used to board passengers is on the left between rows 5 and 6.
That means travellers in Economy Plus and regular economy step on there and turn right, walking through the business class mini-cabin (rows 6-8) to reach their seat and making the aisle congested while you're trying to get settled. Opt for something in rows 1-5 and the'll be much more room for you to move about.
Avoid row 8: Nobody likes listening to a crying, screaming baby in the air, but choose row 8 and there's a good chance that's just what you'll get. With not one, but three bassinets attaching to the bulkhead wall immediately behind these seats, make this row your last resort.
Avoid 4A, 4L: The Dreamliner's large 'electrochromic' windows provide great views during the day – particularly from Australia to the USA – and can block most light from outside without a shutter, but pick 4A or 4L and you'll wind up with one less window than everybody else on board, and less to look at.
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